In the summer of 2012 I began contemplating what that might look like and discussing the idea with others. Eventually the stars aligned and with the help of our ministry and some good friends, more than a year and a half later, I organized Behold the Lamb of God for December 2013.
After the 2013 show, my friend Eddy and I discussed at various times what it might look like to bring the tour back to Memphis. I was hesitant for a while because of the amount of work the first go-round was for a novice event planner. However, after taking a job at Harding Academy where there were great resources for promotion, organization, and brainstorming it seemed like a good next-step. At this point I should also give a shameless shoutout to an initiative Eddy started called The Institute for Faith the Arts since the artists on this tour well represent what IFA hopes to produce in our students.
You may have thought this essay would be about what I learned from the lyrics of the Behold the Lamb of God album, and I assure you, I have learned a great number of things about incarnation from that album. However, this is about what I've learned about God from planning the event itself.
I want to first say organizing this event is doable! The agency that plans the tour for the bandmembers is incredibly helpful and driven to share the the incarnation story through this event. They are helpful in all the helpful ways! And, the bandmembers are the kind of people with whom you'd like to hang at a coffee shop and talk books and music and beauty and broknenness for a few hours.
However, successfully birthing an event of this magnitude takes planning far, far in advance. For me it takes a couple of years to get my head slowly but surely around what it could and should look like. There are logistics of where to put coffee and merch and "Are there enough bathrooms in this place?" and "How many people can we reasonably expect?"
There is the matter of how to pay for the event. Do we get sponsorship? Do we hope ticket sales will allow us to break even?
Promotion. How will we get the word out? Post it on Facebook? Ad space on a radio station? Posters in coffee shops?
How much can we fairly charge for tickets if it is a fundraiser for a ministry or organization in which we believe?
Where will we host the band comfortably when they arrive to make sure they stay healthy? What food do they need? Any allergies of which we should be aware?
As you can see there is a lot to consider and it takes a great deal of time to work out. It got me thinking about God and things He took a long time to plan and work out. So Paul says in Ephesians 1:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
And then Peter chimes in with this in 1 Peter 1:
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
And one more from Paul back in Ephesians 2:
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
All of the goodness, graciousness, and kingdomness we experience now is in no small way part of plans or God's inception and incarnation from years, centuries, and millenia or thoughtful consideration and gritty execution. God is intentional in his planning and executing of the goals he desires to accomplish. Grace is not accidental or simply whimsical. It is, in the best sense of the term, calculated. He considered the cost of time and energy and, more importantly, blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish his goals.
I get a small glimpse of that experience when I participate in the long-term planning of something I think beautiful, good and worth-the-while.
When Andrew and Co. lay down there last line consummating all the threads of the incarnation story of which call the crowd to "sing out with joy for the brave little boy who was God and made himself nothing" I know the effort was worth it because I love being in the presence of the song and story.
When God sees his work completed I can now imagine in a slightly clearer way what joy he must feel with a mission accomplished.
"Hallelujah. Sing hallelujah."